The inside of a healthy mouth is lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. A change in this appearance of the skin could be a warning sign for a pathological process, the most serious of which is oral cancer.
The following can be telling signs of the beginning signs of a pathological process of cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal and easily bleeds.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
Any of these changes may be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. These changes may not always be painful, and are not often associated with oral cancer. However, patients with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may be at risk for oral cancer. It is important to perform oral cancer self-examinations monthly, and to not ignore suspicious lumps or sores.